"Un fil de Soie"
Mysterious and highly sought-after, the secret of silk was greatly protected by its discoverers in China.
Silk fabric became so popular that a "Silk Road" was opened towards the West where its usage spread from before the Middle Ages.
Silk was particularly popular in medieval Italy before coming to France at the end of the 15th century.
The kings and the court of France, established at Amboise during the Renaissance were one of the main silk lovers of their time. However it was expensive to import these fabrics, so from 1470 monarchs like Louis XI supported the development of French manufacturers from Lyon to Tours.
Silk benefitted from a increased interest in the 18th century when the elites, influenced by tales of travellers were filled with enthusiasm for China and its philosophers. The dream of China highly influenced the art of the time as well as, silk, porcelain, varnished furniture and theatre.
Silk production continues today thanks to silk producers like Jean Roze, based near Tours, around 30 kilometres from Amboise. They have an exceptional know-how and produce rich silk every year.
This initiative from the Saint-Louis Foundation for historical heritage is supported by the "Tours, city of silk" association by the French General Precinct, commemorating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and China. The exposition has been enriched by pieces coming from the Tours Musée des Beaux-arts, from funds of the private archives of Maison de France and from private collectors.